Plans by a south-eastern saleyards operator to severely restrict access to transporters are raising chain of responsibility and safety issues, says the state’s leading livestock transporters body.
Victorian Livestock Exchange, which runs facilities at Pakenham, Warragul and Leongatha, has announced it intends to stop “unfettered access” to its saleyards by transporters.
VLE managing director Wayne Osborne said the group was reviewing its operations after a compensation case was brought by a former Boyle’s Livestock Transport driver, injured in an incident at the Pakenham saleyards.
“While the details of the changes to operations are yet to be fully determined, one point is clear; the days of unfettered access by livestock carriers are over,” Mr Osborne said.
That would mean set access times for livestock carriers to be able to enter the site, which would include truck parking and wash bays, showers and toilets.
A Livestock and Rural Transporters’ Association of Victoria spokesman said it hoped the measures wouldn’t put more pressure on drivers and operators, to meet curfews and delivery or collection windows, imposed by the VLE.
“Waiting for livestock to be brought to drivers will place additional pressure on VLE to provide adequate staff numbers to ensure drivers aren't queuing for unreasonable periods,” the spokesman said.
“Access to a truck wash, toilets and showers is vital to livestock transporters to work safely and manage their fatigue.”
Under CoR legislation, prescribed by National Heavy Vehicle Regulator, loading managers, such as saleyards, had a responsibility:
- to work with other off-road parties to make reasonable arrangements to manage loading and unloading time slots.
- ensure vehicles are loaded and unloaded as quickly and efficiently as possible.
- put systems in place for unexpected jobs, due to such things as road delays.
LRTAV immediate past president Mick Debenham said transporters were in the dark until the VLE clarified its position on its operating procedures.
He said it appeared VLE was focusing on taking away drivers’ privileges, rather than fixing the safety issues the LRTAV had raised with the group.
“What I can’t fathom is that they have no business, without carriers, but we are treated as second class citizens," Mr Debenham said.
He said good livestock carriers were vital for the industry to continue.
“We are going to start losing drivers, from this industry, because we are not considered for any value.”
President Graham Howell said he didn’t want to start a “tit-for-tat” argument, but was concerned the VLE seemed to be restricting access and hours, rather than fixing the problems raised by the LRTAV
“All they are doing is making a rod for their own backs,” Mr Howell said.
“Our blokes will just say ‘we want to be safe, so we’ll try and steer stock to other places’.
“If they don’t receive stock in the times they are used to, I guess our drivers will go elsewhere.”
He said it might sound as if drivers were “jumping up and down,” but all the LRTAV wanted was for its drivers to get home safely.
LRTAV vice president John Beer said Pakenham had one of only three truck wash facilities in the greater Melbourne area.
The others were at Geelong and Kyneton.
“I know lots of trucks do go by the Pakenham yards to wash out, so we would hope it stays open,” Mr Beer said.
“But it depends on what time they are talking about closing the facility.”
Truck drivers had constant problems with effluent
It would be “wonderful” for staff to bring animals to the operators.
“‘It would make it a lot safer, especially bulls,” Mr Beer said.
“They are like a keg of dynamite going off; you should have two people working with them.”
“I’ve been smashed up about five times.
“All those animals are dangerous, and you shouldn’t have a driver loading an animal, by himself.”